Photo by munshots on Unsplash
The Minneapolis City Council unanimously voted the approval of a pre-trial settlement over George Floyd’s homicide amounting to $27 million. It was a 13-0 vote to approve the settlement. The 46-year-old’s death at the hands of police last May was caught on camera and outraged the nation, sparking #blacklivesmatter protests worldwide.
The settlement comes as jury selection in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin continues. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. He is facing second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. Three other former police officers who were on the scene with Chauvin in May will also go on trial later this year for aiding and abetting the reckless behavior of Chauvin.
Floyd’s family announced last July that it was suing the city of Minneapolis, saying that it has been negligent for failing to properly train or discipline officers who violated procedure by not firing officers like Chauvin who had several complaints of misconduct previously filed against him over his past 19 years in the force. The lawsuit also said the city allowed for a culture of excessive force and racism to proliferate within the police department.
"Mr. Floyd died because the weight of the entire Minneapolis Police Department was on his neck," said Attorney Ben Crump who represented Floyd’s family in the suit.
The Minneapolis police department has undergone substantial reforms over the last few months. It has now banned the use of chokeholds by police under an agreement with the state Human Rights Department. The former policy allowed neck restraints, which is described as a "non deadly force option," defining it as "compressing one or both sides of a person's neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck)." Its use is allowed with "intent to control" a person or with the intent to render them unconscious by "applying adequate pressure." It also allowed the use of chokeholds, defined as “applying direct pressure on a person's trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway” — as a deadly force option. The agreement also requires officers to intervene if they see another officer using any unauthorized use of force — including chokeholds or neck restraints — or be subject to the same discipline as if they had engaged in the violation themselves.
The family hopes more reforms will be implemented at the police department, including a panel review of all use of force incidents, a quality assurance unit to ensure reforms are adhered to, and an early intervention system that will rely on analytics to identify problem officers.
The settlement is among the largest ever in a case of police misconduct. “This historic agreement, the largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history, makes a statement that George Floyd’s life mattered and by extension that Black lives matter,” said Crump,
$500,000 from the settlement will go towards helping neighborhood businesses around 38th and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, where Floyd died. Part of this will be used to tend the memorial that is now there.
Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said Floyd's death caused a "century-in-the-making reckoning around racial justice that struck Minneapolis like a thunderbolt" and reverberated around the world. Frey said the settlement reflected a commitment to advance racial justice.
In a statement, Floyd's sister Bridgett Floyd said: "I am pleased that this part of our tragic journey to justice for my brother George is resolved."
"Our family suffered an irreplaceable loss May 25 when George's life was senselessly taken by a Minneapolis police officer," she said. "While we will never get our beloved George back, we will continue to work tirelessly to make this world a better, and safer, place for all."